Steroids in baseball

The test results are in: a substantial number of major league baseball players tested positive for steriod use this season, even though they knew well in advance that they were going to be tested.

I have always suspected that Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds blasted their way past Roger Maris a couple of years ago thanks only to their use of "supplements." Barry Bonds in particular, a svelte player in his early career, all of a sudden became unnaturally beefy. Is it any coincidence that he also turned sullen, another effect of steroids?

Those three made a mess of the baseball record book. Maris' 61 homers in 1961, only one more than Babe Ruth's 60 homer season in 1927, had become one of baseball's magic numbers. Others? Babe Ruth's 714 career home runs. Ty Cobb's .364 lifetime batting average. Joe Dimaggio's 56 game hitting streak.

A cynic might point out that if Maris and Ruth had played in the present Yankee Stadium, neither of them would have hit as many home runs as they did. In 1976 the right field fence at "the House that Ruth Built," the shortest in the major leagues for many years, a fence built shallow just to inflate Babe Ruth's numbers, was moved back to a more typical distance. In fact, the record-breaking home run by Maris would probably be caught on the warning track in today's Yankee Stadium.

Nonetheless, Ruth and Maris hit their home runs without the benefit of chemicals. Well, Ruth was on plenty of chemicals, but they weren't of the performance-enhancing variety.

Speculation is also that Roger Clemens, who retired after the World Series, was a beneficiary of the effects of steroids as well. His recent overly-beefy physique and his irrationally irritable behavior on the mound the past few years would support this contention.